Eric D. Snider

Halloween (2007)

Movie Review

Halloween (2007)

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: D-

Released: August 31, 2007

 

Directed by:

Cast:

After de-beautifying the world with his uniquely ugly vision in "House of 1000 Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects," Rob Zombie has found an actual purpose for his vile, hateful characters: to serve as backstory for a psychopath in the "Halloween" remake.

Most remakes are pointless. Zombie's redo of the 1978 horror classic -- the prototype of the modern slasher film -- feels even more pointless than usual. When he's not ruining the story with unnecessary interpolations, he's spinning his wheels by simply re-filming the same plot, scene by scene, that was found in John Carpenter's original.

It gives Zombie too much credit to suggest he had a "point" in mind, but here's the closest thing the movie has to one: No wonder Michael Myers became a killer; just look at his family! As a 10-year-old in what appears to be the early 1980s, Michael (played by Daeg Faerch, whose name I have not misspelled) must contend with an abusive stepfather, Ronnie (William Forsythe), who leers at Michael's teenage sister Judith (Hanna Hall) and hurls bilious insults at Michael's mom (Sheri Moon Zombie, the filmmaker's wife). Mom, Ronnie, and Judith all hate each other and speak their minds freely on that point. Stepdad and Judith hate Michael, too, though Mom (who is a stripper, I feel compelled to mention) is nice to him. Nonetheless, Michael spends his spare time killing animals.

Everyone at school hates Michael, too, largely because of his stripper mom and his general white-trashiness, and probably the animal-killing, although maybe they aren't aware of that. All of this is why Michael wears a mask most of the time (to hide himself from the world), and of course why he starts killing people. Ta-da!

It's his family members who bear the brunt of his lashing out, with the implication that we should be glad, because they were so mean, spiteful, and unpleasant anyway. (But if that's the case, why wasn't Michael Myers on hand to murder every single character in Zombie's other films, since they all talked and acted in the same off-putting manner?) He's sent to a sanitarium and observed by Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), who can barely get the boy to speak, let alone explain himself.

Fifteen years pass. A hospital caretaker (Danny Trejo) says he's been watching over Michael for "almost 20 years," although considering the words on the screen just said "FIFTEEN YEARS LATER," you have to wonder about his memory. I mean, I guess 15 is "almost" 20. It's closer to 20 than it is to zero. So, hey, whatever.

Anyway, as you might have expected even without having seen the original film, Michael -- now a very tall, silent beast who wears a homemade (cell-made?) mask all the time, and now played by Tyler Mane -- gets past the five most incompetent security guards who ever peed their pants during a crisis, flees the hospital, and heads back to his hometown of Haddonfield, Ill. It is Halloween, although none of the students wear costumes to school. (Maybe that isn't done in Haddonfield. They weren't doing it in the 15-years-earlier scenes, either.) One of the students is Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton), a fairly ordinary girl whose girlfriends have sex-based plans for the evening while she's going to spend it babysitting.

In the original film, this point arrives about 15 minutes into the running time. In the remake, it's nearly an hour. And by focusing so much attention on Michael's early history, Zombie removes any hint of scariness or menace from him. Just as "Hannibal Rising" ruined Hannibal Lecter by trying to explain him, Zombie's "Halloween" remake sucks all the thrill and mystery out of Michael Myers. Knowing his origins in depth makes it hard to swallow his superhuman strength and apparent immortality -- things we could accept much more easily when he was just an enigmatic boogeyman.

A few brief moments of mild scariness aside, this is largely a tedious, unimaginative endeavor. But Zombie sure can film naked women being terrorized! In the Special Olympics of moviemaking, filming naked women being terrorized is Zombie's gold medal event! It's good to have a skill, I suppose.

I knew I hated Zombie's brand of crass, heartless brutality from seeing his previous films. In "Halloween," it's interesting to see, once he moves past the repellant nastiness into straightforward horror-movie territory, just how unremarkable he is as a filmmaker. When the characters aren't speaking in over-the-top cruel raunchiness or casually slaughtering one another, they're just boring, and the film is listless. Zombie is a one-trick pony. I don't like the trick or the pony.

Grade: D-

Rated R, pervasive harsh profanity, abundant nudity and some strong sexuality, a lot of fairly graphic violence and blood

1 hr., 49 min.

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This item has 16 comments

  1. John Doe says:

    "I guess 15 is "almost" 20. It's closer to 20 than it is to zero. So, hey, whatever."

    That made me laugh. Math is tough though, so you have to give them some credit.

  2. Brad says:

    I've noticed an interesting divide in the critics. Although all of them agree (as do I) the movie is pretty crappy, the polarizing issue seems to be WHEN it's crappy. The movie is basically divided into three parts: Meyers's childhood, sanitarium, then back in Haddonfield (i.e. the straightforward remake part). Some critics are okay with the first two acts and hate the last act, and other feel the opposite. Of course none of it adds up very well, but at least there's a little something for everyone, right? ;)

    Personally I enjoyed the origin story, and wished the movie had ended before older Laurie showed up. I admit that I never have cared for the "undying monster" motif that Meyers has going throughout the series; imho it makes him boring. Obviously I'm in the minority there. Like I said though, that last act kills off the movie quickly, so overall I'm going with a failing grade.

    Of course, for full disclosure purposes I should also admit that Halloween 3 is my second favorite of the series, which probably tells you all you need to know.

  3. Turkey says:

    Haven't two of the Halloween movies already tried to explain Michael? H2O obviously gave hints, what with the abundant evidence of toddler torture throughout the house. Also, one of the other earlier films (they're all the same right?) briefly visited his stupid family and his first killing spree as a child on Halloween. Personally, I think that's more than enough and tacking on this extra crap is unnecessary.

    And for the record, I've also found that a villian that can never be stopped/killed is also kinda boring after a while. The real tension should be focusing on what is the one thing that WILL stop him and succeeding in doing it. What is his Achilles' heel and how long will it take the slutty teens and the shrink to figure it out? If he doesn't even have one, then what's the point?

  4. John Doe says:

    I think one of the other reviews about it described it best when they said: "Zombie seems to want to explain Myers' evil. But any explanation would be unsatisfactory, and dull the terror of Myers' screen presence."- Sean Mean SLC Tribune.

    I'm not going to pretend the original was deep or anything, but the fact that you didn't understand what he was or why he was made him somewhat special. He was just a scary, monster-ish guy. You don't watch a slasher film to better understand the human condition, to think deeply, or whatever great films are supposed to do. The original Halloween knew the audience wanted something scary/spooky. The fact that they didn't try to explain something that can't make sense is a testament to John Carpenter's intelligence. To explain "he was abused as a child" doesn't explain why he is so incredibly evil, nor why he is impossible to kill. Unless the remake is saying he is just a human who is angry...then that's just lame.

  5. Clumpy says:

    Stranger still is how many critics are calling the movie "genius". As in, using that actual word. "Genius." Check Rottentomatoes.

    Ehh. . . "almost twenty years" work for me, because it seems to be what the average person would say referring to fifteen some-odd years. For Zombie it's almost an endearing human touch.

  6. BeeDub says:

    Cue the rabid Rob Zombie apologists in 3... 2...

  7. Slash says:

    "Stranger still is how many critics are calling the movie "genius". As in, using that actual word. "Genius." Check Rottentomatoes."

    Huh. I found a sum total of ONE who said genius. One.

    I guess that is strange though. Strange that even one would call this crap 'Genius'.

  8. Green-light says:

    What was the critic's name? I'll bet you Clumpy's soul that it's 'Zob Rombie', a totally independent movie critic from Iceland who only covers Rob Zombie movies.

  9. Warmotor says:

    Jeebus, I thought I was the only one who really disliked Zombie's movies. After House of 1000 Corpses the general consensus was that he alone was going to ressurect the grindhouse/slasher genre. I watched that movie, and even as a horror movie fan I just sat there feeling sick to my stomach from the opening scene (remember the firm [butt] in panties, panning over the grotesque corpse it was attached to?) to the closing credits.

    Where was the underlying context that make George Romero's movies engrossing on multiple levels? Where was the inventive imagry that seeped into even the worst Elm St. sequel?

    When it was over I was glad and I wanted only to be able to un-watch it. If delivering an experience akin to watching your grandma getting raped for two solid hours makes you some kind of genius, then Rob Zombie is some kind of GOD.

  10. David Manning says:

    Malcom McDowell as Dr. Loomis? Malcom McDowell from "A Clockwork Orange"? I know he did "Caligula," but still, I weep.

    Point of discussion:
    Which one is the worst director/human being, Rob the Zombie, or Uwe Boll?

  11. David says:

    Filming naked women getting terrorized as a Special Olympics of movie making event. Funny. Thanks for the warning; I think I will miss this one.

  12. Slash says:

    Uwe Boll is the worse director, Rob is the worse human being.

    I love horror movies. I agree with everything Warmotor said. Zombie has nothing original to say. He just says the same things over and over, trying to top his own previous level of ugliness.

  13. marnii says:

    HOUSE OF 1,000 BORINGS, er, i mean CORPSES was the worst film i have ever seen.
    "ROB ZOMBIE'S" HALLOWEEN is the worst film i will never see.

    i suspect that the reason he decided to "reinvent" michael meyers was that if he had made this movie about another character, one that isn't already an established icon, no one would see it because it's the most boring, unimaginative idea ever, and riding on the coattails of John Carpenter was the only way to get people to view this crap.

    i am a HUGE horror fan, and so is rob zombie. you'd think he could come up with something more original than [swear word] on someone else's movie.

  14. dolio says:

    I don't see how a movie that contains Malcolm McDowell, Udo Kier and Danny Trejo could possibly be bad.

  15. mel says:

    Rob Zombie just tried to make a good sequel to one of the most amazing horror movies ever, and he failed to do so..terribly. it was inevitable though, i mean come on. john carpenters halloween was a classic, and you can`t try to remake a classic. it just doesn`t work. and zombie just took away all the mystery and creepiness from mike myers and analyzed him in the new movie. it scared the audience that they didn`t know why or how he got to be so insane and it really freaked them out. and overall, it was just stupid, too gorey, terrible, and not very well written. and zombie killed off [SPOILER]. my favorite character. so yeah. don`t try to make movies zombie, it doesn`t work.

  16. Beau says:

    I disagree, i thought this was pretty damn good for a Rob Zombie movie, given his other ones were duds.

    It wouldnt matter if you hadnt seen any of the other halloween movies because the re-tell basically sums it all up without having to watch the others.

    Although iwas rather shocked to see that the lead boy from spy kids was featured as a foul-mouthed bully. Also Michaels sister in this movie played by i think "hanna hall" has also evolved from playing a quiet christian girl in The Virgin Suicides to being totally trashy in this movie. It was rather amusing to see kids evolve throughout their careers as they get older playing much versatile roles.

    I was impressed by the actress who played Laurie Strode. Her face masked many emotions during her terrible ordeal towards the end.

    I do agree with you eric, in that of course he would turn out the way he did, look at his family!

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